Asteroid to pass close to the Earth tonight - and you should be able to see it

breaking news
breaking news

An asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool will pass by the Earth tonight (Friday).

The object will pass us by at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200miles) - set to be the closest ever predicted for an object of its size.

It will pass closer even than the geosynchronous satellites that orbit the Earth, but there is no risk of impacts or collisions, experts have said.

Its closest approach will be at 19:25 GMT. And for regions in darkness around that time, it will be visible using good binoculars or a telescope.

The asteroid orbits the Sun in 368 days, but does not orbit in the same plane as the Earth.

As it passes at a staggering 7.8km/s (17,450 mi/hr) it will come from “under” the Earth and return back towards the Sun from “above”.

As it does, it will pass over the eastern Indian Ocean, making for the best viewing in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia.

But people can find one of several live streams of the event on the internet, including a feed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Nasa, available from 19:00 GMT.

It was first spotted in February last year by astronomers at the La Sagra Sky Survey in Spain. They caught sight of the asteroid after its last pass, at a far greater distance. They were able to calculate the asteroid’s future and past paths and predict tonight’s near-miss will be the closest the object comes for at least 30 years.

If you manage to get a picture tonight - send it into us.